It all started out in the labor and delivery ward at UVRMC. But actually, it kind of started on a shopping trip to Target in the late afternoon. Well, actually it ALL started out in Tim's childhood bedroom on Christmas Eve.
But regardless, Celia was in labor! And having her baby! And I was there! And then I started having some pretty intense surges that would not let up. I want to first off, just tell everyone how awesome she was. When I got there around 8 they were hooking her up to some pitocin (her membranes had been released for quite some time) and then a little bit later she got an epidural from a nice Indian doctor. Through it all, she rocked. After her epidural, she was relaxed and joking. Part of me thought about how I might want one of those one day... she progressed super fast, and before we knew it, around midnight she was telling everyone she needed to PUSH. The doctor set everything up (it felt like forever for me, so it was probably worse for her!) and then they set her up in the stirrups and I manned the camera. I wish I had pictures to put up but I'm sure Becca will take care of that soon so check out her blog. Anywho, after about TEN MINUTES of pushing (which Celia said was so not painful or anything) out popped Eliza. She was a solid six pounds, and they had to take her away for a CPAP. What is up with the CPAPS? It seems like every baby I know gets one!
Anyways, pretty much immediately after Eliza's arrival I needed to go home because I was hurting and needed to get into bed. I barely could drive.
I arrived home and hopped into bed and figured the contractions would cease because they always do at night. Needless to say, they didn't. So we got out of bed and ate some Cap'n Crunch and packed up our birth supplies. The drive to the hospital was pretty intense. My back was KILLING me. That was what hurt the whole time... the back labor was by far the worst part (they think he might've been posterior and flipped at the last minute when I was on hands and knees).
We arrived at the hospital and they checked me in triage and I was still only at a 4+/5. I was so disappointed because I was sure those surges were doing SOMETHING. (Side note: while the nurses were attending to me, we heard screaming down the hall. A woman had her baby in the elevator on the way up to the L&D floor... CRAZY). My midwife Jessica almost sent us home to come back when I was actually in labor, but she let us walk around for a few hours to see if anything happened, and if it did, we could be admitted. We did that, and the next time the nurse checked I was a solid 5 and my cervix was really floppy and effaced. So they let us stay! Awesome, part 1.
I got to my room and the first order of business was filling up that jacuzzi tub. And OH MAN. It helps SO MUCH. Tim put on the hypnobirthing CD, even though I couldn't really concentrate on it so we ended up playing a playlist of Ingrid Michaelson/Norah Jones -ish songs. It was nice. I labored a good four or five hours just in the tub, going from a 5 to a 7. It was pretty slow-going because I was really relaxed in the tub, almost falling asleep a few times. But even though it was slow, it was worth it because I was hardly in any pain.
Then, I got out of the tub and labored on the ball for a while and walked around the room. Then I got back in the tub. I really liked the tub.
During the whole process of up to 8/9 cm, I really was not in that much pain. I kept thinking it would get worse, and I was really nervous about it, but I kept on pushing through. I really enjoyed most of my labor. My midwife was SO awesome, she let me just do my thing. She even suggested things like eating during labor (I can't imagine not eating... I was starving at some points and those granola bars and apples and gatorade helped a lot) and let me get in the tub after my membranes released (even though I thought I couldn't). She hung out and talked, and told me that she amazed at how I was coping with everything. When I was having a surge, I would just put my head down in moan, but they really didn't last that long and I would look right back up and start talking again. We chatted about being a midwife and childbirth and all sorts of things. It was so different from having a doctor just come in to catch. I really felt like she cared about being there and wanted to hang out with me.
Speaking of membranes releasing, it never happened by itself, so when I was finally 8/9 cm I told Jessica I wanted her to go ahead and do it manually because I knew I just needed to get over that hump into the transition phase and then it would be time to have him. So, around 11 am, Jessica broke my water. And first of all, she said I had the toughest bag of waters ever. It took about 4 or 5 tries to finally get it ruptured and leaking (which felt amazingly good). She said that's a sign of good nutrition though, and it's probably why he stayed in there so long through so many weeks of contractions. Second of all, Jessica said it would take some time before it kicked in and I would ease into the transition phase. NOT. About two minutes after she did it, I was in the most intense pain I've ever experienced. I was puking between surges and I was so convinced that I could not go on. I kept asking for drugs and yelling like a cave woman. It took a really long time (I don't know how long because I was so zoned into myself) to get a last anterior lip of cervix that I had to go away. And I screamed. I feel so bad for everyone around me because I was so inside myself I couldn't pay attention or think about anything else. I screamed like a banshee and I know I threw out some naughty words and I might've been a little abrasive but there was really no way I could communicate. It was the most surreal experience I've ever had. I was so focused on one objective and that was getting this baby out and getting rid of the intense pain.
After, I don't know, an hour of transition, Jessica used her fingers to push at the anterior lip while I pushed down during a contraction (they were no longer surges at this point... they were CONTRACTIONS) and I finally got over that hump. And this came the urge to push. More powerful than any sensation I've ever experienced. And pushing actually did not hurt. It felt soooooo good and relieving. When I was taking breaks between pushing was when it kind of hurt, but the bearing down as hard as I could getting that baby out felt so amazing.
Pushing felt great, but what didn't feel great was the fact I hadn't slept in two days and my body was absolutely spent. Little Theodore would not get around that pubic bone (his arm was up around his chest and he would not descend right) no matter how hard I pushed. It was a horrible feeling to push super hard, look down and see his little head, and then feel it go back in. I kept touching it to feel my progress because it kept reminding me how close I was to being finished. And by close, I mean it took 2 hours. Which felt like forever, but also felt really fast.
I finally told my midwife that I couldn't do it anymore and she had me set a timeline. I told her I could not push anymore after 20 minutes. That was my limit. I told her to go call the doctor and get him to come in the vacuum, and she went to do just that. As soon as she left the room, the thought of a vacuum extractor hooked up to my little Theodore's head gave me a burst of renewed energy and I bore down and pushed harder than I ever thought possible. I remember the nurse grabbing the phone to call down and get Jessica to come back because the baby was finally coming. Jessica ran back in, and told them to not call the doctor in because I was having this baby my way. Tim got set up to catch him and I closed my eyes and reached for something inside myself that I was sure had left me hours before. I held my breath and after a few solid pushes, his head emerged. I kept pushing little short pushes then so I could stretch and not tear (which I didn't!) and finally in the best feeling moment in my life, his head came out and the rest of his body just kind of slid. Tim caught him and placed him immediately on my chest and we rubbed him down. He never took a breath or started crying and was a little limp, so Jessica called in the respiratory team and took him away from me. This was probably the worst part of the day.... I couldn't bear that I had just worked so hard and I wanted those moments right after birth to look into his eyes and bond with him and feel those rush of love hormones but there he was, separated from me and surrounded by other people. Tim went with him down to the NICU after I got to hold him for THIRTY SECONDS, no longer (as instructed by the NICU nurse who was not very nice to me and only let me after I begged for those few moments).
And that is how our little Theodore came into the world. It was the most physically-demanding and spiritual experience of my life. I can't believe I actually did it, and I remember sitting in the bed after just thinking about how awesome I was. It was so empowering, so raw, so intense.